Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tour of the West: Wheeler Peak

One of the places we stopped for a couple of nights on our recent trip was Great Basin National Park, just off of I-50 close to where it hits the Nevada-Utah border.  This park contains 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, the highest peak in Nevada, so naturally we needed to climb it :)

The view of the peak from our campground, close to 10,000 feet.  Sleeping this high helps acclimatization, as long as it doesn't make you sick (I've had problems in the past going straight from sea level to sleeping at 11,000 feet in the Sierras...).  We had camped at about 6000 feet the night before, and no one had any problems.

If you get out from under the trees, you can pretty much see the route up -- just follow the ridge up on the right side of the mountain in this picture:

After getting a weather report, we decided to get an early start to avoid any potential afternoon thunderstorms.  The trail started out quite mellow, working its way up through an aspen grove.

Soon we started to get views of the peak, and the Small One thought her goofy parents were funny.

After a gently climb above a lake, we reached a minor saddle, from which you could pretty much see which way to go up to the top.  All very straightforward.

Kid still cheery.

After this point, we were above the tree line, and began to work our way up the rubble along the ridge.  You can see a few parties ahead of us at this point.

We passed them all.  Nim is in pretty good shape from all the running she has had to do in PE.

The view kept opening up, and we could see how much progress we back down the ridge, 

as well as how much further there was to go.

We kept walking,

stopped for a snack,

and continued to mark our progress up the ridge.

After a while, the hiking turned into a bit of a clamber,

so we needed another snack, this time in the snow.  At this point, we were quite a bit higher than the farm fields in the valley we had driven through the day before.

Occasionally, I needed to be a monster, as the small monster started to slow down.  It couldn't have been all that bad, as this parental behavior was still deemed funny.

Ho!  A rock shelter marking the summit log.

It was a room with a view

with a cute little mailbox to protect the log book.

Nim had a snack.  (Sense a trend here?)

Post snack, she once again started making faces.

We explored the flat (ish) area at the top.  There were views in all directions.

Somehow, ladybugs live here.

After a bit, the clouds started to look a bit threatening,

 so we hightailed it down off the summit.

We were somewhat relieved when we got off the steeper part of the rock pile and back onto some semblance of a smooth trail without any weather beyond threatening clouds.

Back down among the trees, Chad looked up and said "I'm putting my coat on."   We followed suit. Not a minute later, a clap of thunder boomed and it started to pour.  Wise dad.

The rain only lasted about five minutes, and by the time we made it back to the campsite, all was clear and sunny again.  

Notice Nim had yet another snack!  A fine day's hike.

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